The UK’s Christmas Carbon Footprint (and how you can reduce it)

Andy at Business Waste.trade has shared an insightful infographic with us. He says:

“This year it’s expected that the average family will spend, on average, £800 on presents, food, decorations and travel. After all, it is the time of the year where we visit distant loved ones, reconnect with lost friends, and gorge ourselves silly on party food and alcohol.

“As well as the great financial strains that the festive season puts on us, it also has other, largely unseen consequences that affect the environment around us.

“According to research conducted by Business Waste.trade, the two weeks that make up our favourite time of the year put great strain on resources, and amounts to millions of tonnes of waste and pollution.

“For example, did you know that we as a country throw away 230,000 tonnes of food during the Christmas period, which is the equivalent of 74 million mince pies? Or that it takes 3.5kg of carbon dioxide to produce just 1kg of wrapping paper? ”

Click on the graphic below to find out more:

The true cost of Christmas

After digesting some of those figures, I reckon that if I can make even a small reduction on my impact, it’ll be effort well spent. Here’s some ideas for you to reduce your Christmas Carbon Footprint and have a bit of fun at the same time…

Making, decorating and Christmas day crafts:

Why not try your hand at making some carbon-neutral Christmas lights? Your neighbours will be impressed, and you could work off all those mince pies at the same time on a pedal powered version.

Here’s a fun eco-friendly Christmas day craft activity that will ensure your empty gift boxes get plenty of re-use and enjoyment before you’re ready to recycle them. What other animals or objects could you make?

Eat, drink, be merry and recycle:

For any meat-eaters out there, don’t forget to buy a local Turkey. Make sure you get a big one, so you can invite lots of friends over… cooking one big meal takes up a lot less energy than cooking many. And it’s far more social too!

And finally, when the festivities come to an end, Recycle now has a helpful recycling locator that can make sure anything you haven’t eaten or reused ends up in the right recycling bin.

Wishing you the best for the holiday season from EcoStreet!

Cape Town’s first Eco-Film Festival (and win a green home hamper)

Eco Film Festival Cape Town

The Cape Town Eco Film Festival will be the first of its kind in the city. The festival will take place at the Labia Theatre on Orange Street in Cape Town, and will run for five days from the 27th to the 31st March. It will bring together the best local and international documentary films focusing on environmental issues. Altogether, the festival will feature 25 eco-films and 10 local premieres. They will also host guest speakers and Q&A sessions to discuss important issues around environmentalism, from climate change and pollution to plummeting biodiversity and diminishing natural resources.

For each ticket purchased at R45, R5 will be donated to Greenpop, who will use the money to help finance their re-forestation efforts in South Africa and Zambia. You can reserve tickets for the Cape Town Eco-Festival by calling the Labia box office on 021 424 5927 or you can buy tickets at Webtickets.co.za

Zeke Murphy, of Sustainable.co.za, comments: “I believe that a film festival such as the Cape Town Eco film festival is critical in the continued effort to protect our planet for our children. Sustainable.co.za is committed to raising awareness regarding issues with our environment, climate change and protecting our wild life, and we feel that our involvement in the film festival is a wonderful means to raising these issues within the South African community."

Competition to win a green home hamper

To promote the event, Sustainable.co.za is hosting a Facebook competition this month. The competition will run from 10th March right up until the start of the festival. The competition quiz will ask questions regarding environmental issues. Participants will be in with a chance of winning a green home hamper worth over R1000, which includes a water saving showerhead, solar jar, energy monitor and eco cooker from Sustainable.co.za. More information about the prizes can be found on the Sustainable.co.za blog. To enter, all you have to do is visit Sustainable.co.za’s Facebook competition page and test your knowledge by completing the quiz, after all, the first step towards action is awareness.

The Road in Iceland: Environmental disaster or economic progress?

Katie Wise and Ashley Moradipour need your help to make a documentary that tells the story of a group of dedicated Icelanders vs. a big road constuction project.

Iceland is a nation well-known for its breathtaking natural landscapes and formations, which Icelanders hold dear to their hearts. This is why a recent road construction project has caused people to fight back. This new road will run from the Alftanes peninsula, where the presidential office is, to the Reykjavik suburb of Gardabaer; the projected plan involves the road cutting directly through the largest lava field in the Reykjavik area. Icelanders of all walks of life, from artists to musicians to elf “seers" are protesting the construction of this road, arguing that the new road is unnecessarily destroying Iceland’s natural beauty. During the fall of 2013, dozens of “friends of lava" (an environmentalist group) gathered around the lava rocks every day, sitting and singing songs to peacefully protest the construction of this road. One day, the friends of lava were confronted with the “biggest bulldozer in Iceland" and over 50 police officers. After not backing down to the officers’ requests to leave the lava field, protesters were physically removed from the area and 9 were arrested and sent to jail. Since that day, the 9 arrested were sent to court for a hearing, but they continue to fight for the preservation of this lava field.

Our documentary will follow the story of this road construction project and the passionate protesters who are fighting to save the land. While the personal stories that will be shared through the film are specific to this cause, the broader issue to be explored is the constant struggle between preserving nature and the expansion of a nation. This documentary will take you into the lives of passionate Icelanders and give a whole new perspective on environment vs. economy.

Green Energy Affected by Labour Party Price Freezes

Green or renewable energy firms remain up in arms about the prospect of a fuel price freeze for consumers if people elect Labour the next general election. Reports are emerging that large investments in renewable energy are likely to suffer and that is not going to help the UK meet its carbon reduction targets of an 80% reduction from the 1990 baseline by 2050. That may seem like a long way off, but it could be as short as five prime ministerial terms, which begs the question of whether our political terms are hindering our drive for lower carbon emissions in the UK?

Vote Bait Damaging Renewable Energy Initiatives

There’s little doubt that the renewable energy market will pay the price for politicians who consider telling people what they want to hear more important than producing a long-term plan for greener and sustainable methods of energy production.

Given the optimistic targets, you would think that the government would be keen to invest heavily in renewables, but the exact opposite seems to be happening with the UK government helping BP fight court battles in the U.S. to win new federal contracts and reduce the number of false claims. This report from the BBC explains how U.S. firms unaffected by the environmental disaster, to which BP admitted responsibility, are now seeking to claim compensation from the UK oil giant.

Jobs and Votes

Obviously, we must protect jobs, but the rise of fracking for shale gas in the U.S. has already reduced the profitability of Oil for use in power stations and I would like to suggest that our government should spend our money on creating jobs here in a renewable energy market. Businesses like B.P. have raked in billions over recent decades, so can’t these industries stand on their own without the need for government assistance?

Surely, more votes would be forthcoming if we had low cost energy generated locally and in a cleaner environment? How about focussing on building an electric charge network for electric cars so petrol prices are no longer an issue and concentrate on using renewables to generate the energy required to charge those cars. A government willing to take the hard route with a long-term plan would win my vote. Electrifying more of the railways is a good start and recent initiatives have been a move in the right direction, but there simply isn’t enough focus on clean energy production infrastructure.

Long Term Development of Energy Efficient Products

When the move to do away with the traditional tungsten filament light bulbs took place, governments around the world made a positive move that benefits the environment because of the lower energy consumption alternatives that replaced them. However, technology exists to further reduce consumption with alternatives and while it’s not a good idea to wipe an industry out overnight, surely, the need to reduce our carbon emissions should be a big enough driving factor to force through further change? At the moment, it seems as though energy efficiency is only driven by the high cost of fuel.

This is a guest post by Shaun Thomas who is working with World of Solar to promote the use of green energy products in the home and businesses in the UK.

Image credit: Simon Howden via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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